alternative cabaret classical rock gothic piano rock prog rock review

Mishkin Fitzgerald & Catherine Elms – ARCANA Review

A wild gothic cabaret jaunt into the arcane and mysterious underworld.

What does Mishkin Fitzgerald & Catherine Elms sound like?

Cabaret piano prog rock. If Amanda Palmer was more of a gothic dark orchestral rock band in waiting.

The review of Mishkin Fitzgerald & Catherine Elms – ARCANA

A gothic dark cabaret rock mash-up, ‘ARCANA’ is a wild release that sounds like Kate Bush and Amanda Palmer’s love child if they loved prog rock. Catherine Elms is an artist in her own right, and Mishkin Fitzgerald heralds from the excellent dark orchestral rock band Birdeatsbaby. Between them, they’ve created a full-bodied bottle of blood-red wine music. It’s thick with emotion and drama and that starts with the gothic cabaret approach to music.

Cover art for Arcana
Cover art for Arcana

Whilst both Mishkin and Catherine take on vocal duties that range from hushed shoegazey duets to dramatic cries of arcane delights, it is the piano that often takes centre stage. Both ladies are on piano duty and that doesn’t surprise me as so much is going on. On the opening track ‘Ruin’, multiple melodies and interplaying motifs are bouncing off each other with gusto. Add in a full band backing everything up with a gritty sizzle to the production sound and you have a snake bite waiting to uncoil at you. Also, the duo get huge props throwing in a waltz partway through as well.

Whilst ‘Ruin’ has a campy horror to it, ‘The High Priestess’ is brooding with sinister entrails dragging behind it. This is because of how guttural and bass-driven the track is early on before becoming a drum and piano-driven extended outro. It could have been very hammy to Frankenstein plod through a couple of low hanging bass piano note thuds but Mishkin and Catherine bring a gothic blues to it and it sounds great. ‘The Tower’ is the polar opposite. Huge drums, rolling piano chords, big vocal delivery and then an ethereal chorus, it is a riot. The cabaret spirit is in full bloom throughout especially with its impressive key-changing sections before the chaotic disjointed guitar solo smashes in. The closing track is ‘The Hermit’. This is a dark starry ballad that sounds like a ghostly fairytale. Mishkin and Catherine are in their element as the song reaches its climax. As the piano and organs sway between saddened chords, the two artists hushedly sing back and forth to each other. It is like we’re being invited into their magical realm but that in joining them, we’re inviting in danger and the arcane too. The vocals steal the show here as the duo also tackle some operatic moments and plenty of complex harmonies too. The song is deliciously mystical and I feel like I’ve peeked into a mysterious world.

A lot is going on in just four tracks. Mishkin Fitzgerald and Catherine Elms have worked magic in creating tracks where both artists shine. Their voices complement each other and their masterful tinkling of the ivories makes the EP a bombastic and chaotic affair. I’ve not heard alternative cabaret music this gothically charged before. I must say on this evidence, I’m a new and delighted fan. A superb collaboration and I hope there will be more to come.

Recommended track: The Hermit

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Mishkin Fitzgerald & Catherine Elms - ARCANA



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